Rare 500-year-old royal Stewart seal to be auctioned online

The James Stewart, Commendator of Melrose Seal is expected to fetch a four-figure sum.

Rare 500-year-old royal Stewart seal to be auctioned online Lyon and Turnbull

A 16th century seal connected to the royal House of Stewart is to be auctioned live online.

The rare James Stewart, Commendator of Melrose Seal will be auctioned on Tuesday with bidding starting at £1000.

The Stewart rule, later Stuart, spanned nine monarchs, beginning in Scotland in 1371 and ending in 1714, by which time it also encompassed England and Ireland.

The 500 year old artefact would have been made for one of King James V’s seven illegitimate sons, four of whom were called James/John.  

The title demonstrates recognition by their father (Mary, Queen of Scots would become his only surviving legitimate child ) despite being born out of wedlock and not receiving royal titles.  

James Stewart’s held a position as Commendator of the Abbeys of both Kelso (1534-1557) and Melrose (1535-1557). 

He oversaw the immediate and surrounding land around the abbeys and was also in control of local finances and security.  

By conferring James Stewart the title of Commendator, the King not only instilled a level of power and influence in his son – bringing him closer to that of a legitimate prince – the role also served to protect the King’s interest in the significant geographical areas bordering England.

The last time this particular seal, which relates exclusively to Melrose Abbey, was seen in public was in 1901. 

It was displayed during Glasgow International Exhibition at Kelvingrove Park which attracted more than 11.5 million visitors.

Since that time the seal, one of a collection up for sale, has remained in the same family.

Colin Fraser, Consultant Specialist at Lyon & Turnbull said: Such early and historical survivals are rare for Scotland. Something so personal to the owner and, in this case an owner with such power and close connection to the Royal Stewart household, is remarkable.

“While early seals do survive the vast majority are in institutional collections so never become available to collectors. This this is a very unusual opportunity for someone to own an amazing piece of history.”

Interest is expected to be high.